You know, the "decades" this will take to complete would have actually made sense if the trains collapsed spacetime to get to their destination.
[vindaloo] The key metric for all railways in North America is the operating ratio, and passenger rail is not a good performer in that respect. French, German and Japanese railways are all heavily subsidized, they have an operating-ratio of 1.5 to 2 (meaning for every dollar they earn they spend $1.5 to $2). To maintain tracks for 200 mph or faster traffic requires a staggering amount of operating dollars, which a for-profit model can never sustain.
[You Can't Tip a Buick] The comparable high-speed rail systems in France and Spain run operational surpluses — once they're built, these suckers turn a profit.
I ask you this: given the infrastructure that the US is biased towards roads, would a better solution be upgrading our roads to support autonomous electric cars? Start with a single lane each way, where you drive to the entrance and then the autonomous systems takes over and merges you into the fast lane.
June 26, 2011: Amtrak Ridership Growth A Sign Of Cultural Shift?
October 13, 2011: Amtrak Ridership Rolls Up Best-Ever Records. [PDF]
April 11, 2012: Amtrak On Pace to Set New Ridership Record. [PDF]
July 10, 2012: Amtrak's Downeaster Sets Another Ridership Record.
Is Amtrak cheaper than the bus?Of course it's not cheaper than the bus.
Is Amtrak cheaper than the bus?
Using Federal Highway Administration data, Subsidyscope calculated that in 2007, user fees accounted for 51 percent of all road funding—a 10 percent decline over the previous decade and the lowest level since the creation of the Federal Highway Trust Fund in 1957.
[T]he ownership and operation of this road by a private corporation is contrary to public sentiment in this county, and [the] cause of good roads, which has received so much attention in this state in recent years, requires that this antiquated system should be abolished. ... That public opinion throughout the state is strongly in favor of the abolition of toll roads is indicated by the fact that since the passage of the act of 1899, which permits counties to acquire these roads, the boards of supervisors of most of the counties where such roads have existed have availed themselves of its provisions and practically abolished the toll road.
Its cost doubled over initial estimates, with critics charging its final price would be as much as five times what voters approved. It was the target of numerous lawsuits and was denounced as an unaffordable and unnecessary boondoggle.
“It” is the Golden Gate Bridge, widely regarded as one of the great triumphs of California infrastructure.
... result was a 62% reduction in vehicle hours of travel on I-93, the airport tunnels, and the connection from Storrow Drive, from an average 38,200 hours per day before construction (1994–1995) to 14,800 hours per day in 2004–2005, after the project was largely complete. The savings for travelers was estimated at $166 million annually in the same 2004–2005 time frame. Travel times on the Central Artery northbound during the afternoon peak hour were reduced 85.6%. Wiki
Cars are "cages"
High speed rail just makes me sad. It's not because I like cars better (I don't), or that I don't like high speed rail (ooh la la Grand Vitesse), but honestly, if we would spend the money we're laying out for showy, futuristic World's Fair-style projects like HSR on a basic reboot of the rail system we once had that worked very, very well, I think people would be amazed at how popular rail travel would be. Bring back cheap Pullman sleepers on overnight runs, and run more trains to more places more often, at the speeds (80-90 mph) that were becoming standard fare a hundred years ago.
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